MAD Perspectives Blog

 Don't Forget the I in Social Media ROI!

Peggy Dau - Wednesday, December 07, 2011

It's that time of year where we take stock of our successes and failures in the past year.  The goal is that success always outweigh failure.  BTW, failure is OK as it is often how we gain the insight required for great success.  It is also the time of year where we are finalizing our plans and commitments for the coming year. In many cases you've probably won agreement to engage (or continue engaging) in social media.  But, there is probably increasing pressure to define the return on your social media investment.

There are a zillion blogs defining the various metrics you can use to measure return.  Here are a few of them:

Similar to other marketing efforts, there are a range of qualitative and quantitative metrics that can be measured.  In all cases, the metrics should be tied to goals which are tied to business objectives.  Nothing new here.  What's interesting to me is the lack of focus on the investment required to achieve those goals and capture defined metrics.  This is the I in ROI.

Social media is often perceived as "free".  However, this ignores real costs such as:

     - Staff - Your team, (e.g, marketing, customer support, management, etc.) must invest time to engage on social networks, write blogs, monitor customer feedback, etc.  As they say, time is money.

     - Technology - Yes, the leading social networks are free of individual use.  However, do you customize your Facebook/Twitter/LinkedIn pages, use a social media monitoring/analytics/measurement platform to capture conversations and measure influence, use a social media hub to simplify distribution of content across multiple social networks?  If so, these are investments that must be captured.

     - Creative - In order to make your brand stand out, it is often useful to customize your social network presence.  This can include specific images for Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and other outlets.  It can involve the creation of badges, infographics, slides, videos or other content specifically for social networks.

     - Agency - Large companies often outsource their social media efforts, content creation efforts to agencies.  These costs should be allocated accordingly.

Capturing a meaningful ROI requires attention to detail and an understanding of what it really takes to meet defined goals.  Altimeter Group has an excellent paper outlining a pragmatic path for analyzing social success. As always, strategy first, technology last - with measuring, listening, analyzing and responding always!

Align your social media strategy with your business objectives, integrate it with your marketing plan and figure out how your going to implement and pay for the strategy. Create a plan for social media success.  Figure out the plan to make sure others recognize the value it provides in achieve business goals.  And, don't forget the I in ROI, it's the key to earning the R!

What's your perspective?